Little Women HTML version

Literary Lessons
Fortune suddenly smiled upon Jo, and dropped a good luck penny in her path. Not a
golden penny, exactly, but I doubt if half a million would have given more real happiness
then did the little sum that came to her in this wise.
Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and
`fall into a vortex', as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and
soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. Her `scribbling suit' consisted of a
black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same
material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the
decks were cleared for action. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family,
who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-
occasionally to ask, with interest, "Does genius burn, Jo?" They did not always venture
even to ask this question, but took an observation of the cap, and judged accordingly. If
this expressive article of dress was drawn low upon the forehead, it was a sign that hard
work was going on, in exciting moments it was pushed rakishly askew, and when despair
seized the author it was plucked wholly off, and cast upon the floor, and cast upon the
floor. At such times the intruder silently withdrew, and not until the red bow was seen
gaily erect upon the gifted brow, did anyone dare address Jo.
She did not think herself a genius by any means, but when the writing fit came on, she
gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want,
care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends
almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh. Sleep forsook her eyes, meals stood
untasted, day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only
at such times, and made these hours worth living, even if they bore no other fruit. The
divine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her `vortex',
hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent.
She was just recovering from one of these attacks when she was prevailed upon to escort
Miss Crocker to a lecture, and in return for her virtue was rewarded with a new idea. It
was a People's Course, the lecture on the Pyramids, and Jo rather wondered at the choice
of such a subject for such an audience, but took it for granted that some great social evil
would be remedied or some great want supplied by unfolding the glories of the Pharaohs
to an audience whose thoughts were busy with the price of coal and flour, and whose
lives were spent in trying to solve harder riddles than that of the Sphinx.
They were early, and while Miss Crocker set the heel of her stocking, Jo amused herself
by examining the faces of the people who occupied the seat with them. On her left were
two matrons, with massive foreheads and bonnets to match, discussing Women's Rights
and making tatting. Beyond sat a pair of humble lovers, artlessly holding each other by
the hand, a somber spinster eating peppermints out of a paper bag, and an old gentleman
taking his preparatory nap behind a yellow bandanna. On her right, her only neighbor was
a studious looking lad absorbed in a newspaper.
It was a pictorial sheet, and Jo examined the work of art nearest her, idly wondering what
fortuitous concatenation of circumstances needed the melodramatic illustration of an
Indian in full war costume, tumbling over a precipice with a wolf at his throat, while two
infuriated young gentlemen, with unnaturally small feet and big eyes, were stabbing each
other close by, and a disheveled female was flying away in the background with her